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The Sky Is Bluer Than Usual Today

gunYesterday I met with a long-term client and friend at my local Starbucks.

It’s located at the edge of a shopping center in the neighborhood known as City Heights here in San Diego. I’d walked to the coffee shop after finishing my volunteer stint at the library.

We were sitting outside because it was a lovely, warm afternoon. We were discussing the content for his new website.

I was facing roughly north and I glanced up, probably drawn by the sound of a siren, to see a San Diego City Police Car stopped with all lights flashing and at least three San Diego City Policemen  with drawn pistols pointing at the red sedan stopped immediately in front of them.

Out of the front and back passenger windows, which were partially opened, were two sets of hands awkwardly waving trying to show, I assume, they were unarmed and not going to provoke the police. From the concentration of the cops I gathered the same thing was going on on the other side of the car.

The incident gradually wound down; no one was shot. My client and I walked to the nearby bank and he withdrew some money to pay me for work I’d already done.

As best as I can recall my thoughts went something like this:

  • My God, they’ve got guns pointing at those guys.
  • The cops are white and it looks like everyone in the stopped car is black.
  • If they start shooting and those guys scatter we could be shot.
  • What’s going on or what was going on that needed this kind of fire power ready to do untold damage to both suspects and the many others in the parking lot around the shopping center.
  • Yes, the cops are all male and they are all white and the hands waving out of the window look male and black to me.
  • If they start shooting even going inside may not help.
  • If this goes bad we could be shot. I don’t want to be shot!

And so it went, my fear running high as was my curiosity and horror at the whole scene. I came home rattled and almost immediately had a phone appointment.

This morning I called and apparently the car the police stopped was a stolen car – that’s all the officer would tell me, other than to explain the fact that it was a stolen car was why the officers had drawn their weapons. That doesn’t quite go together for me.

The takeaways? There’s a bunch for me this morning and will probably be more to come.

  • I’m terribly grateful.
  • We truly never know what will happen moment to moment.
  • My writing business continued making its demands in spite of what had happened – and I went with it.
  • Writing from life experiences is part of what I and most writers do.

I’m not even sure this post belongs here on a site about freelance writing, and yet, writing is my business. I was conducting business when this happened, so where else?

Thanks for being there, truly.


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by jarito

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Maybe it was just an observation, Mr. Benson. Her thought pattern at that moment seems pretty random to me, almost stream-of-consciousness. Paying attention to those observations and noting them, as they occur, is writing-related and this is a blog about freelance writing. Nowhere did I see any implication of racism.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..Lose Your Job? Do These Five ThingsMy Profile

  • Ouch, Heenee – you stay safe too!

  • Yep, things happen all the time…
    It was but a few weeks ago, armed robbers went in a corner taverna I go sometimes. Nobody got hurt, thankfully — but a shiver ran down my spine, when I realized that I was in there just the night before the incident.
    Greece is going bankrupt fast, it’s just a matter of a few weeks at most, and incidents like this happen with increasing frequency. It’s been quite some time now, long before that happened, that I go to banks and stores wishing no robbery will occur while I’m in. It’s no fun situation to live in!
    I’m glad you’re fine, really.
    Helenee recently posted..Odyssey: A Tale of HomecomingMy Profile

  • Me too, glad that there was no shooting, particularly at me.

  • Virtual hugs back at you, Cathy. Good story.

  • Thanks Susie.

  • Mark, I find that many guns freaky to the max. No clue if it was necessary or not, and there’s no way to find out. The officers may have gotten it right. It was still a freaky experience.

  • Floyd, I’m sorry you’re disappointed in the post.

  • We have so many people in prison in this country (the U.S.) and so many of them are black – that’s also scary to me. So is our unwillingness to work to control even assault weapons – there is much I don’t understand. And San Diego cops have a rep of being trigger happy at least some of the time. OTOH.. sigh, I think I’m not going there at the moment.

  • Yeah, Sharon. I behave like I’m sure I’ll have a tomorrow, or even another breath. It’s sure not guaranteed.

  • lol, Paul, I’m about as real as I can get – just like you 😉

  • Wow, Anne! That’s so freaking scary! Glad things wound down without incident, amen.
    Lori recently posted..Things That Make My Head Explode Part SevenMy Profile

  • That is frightening. Early in my corporate career (way early), I worked in downtown Cleveland. My Dad worked there as well and I would walk over to his office building so we could ride home together.

    It was a beautiful, sunny day as well when all of a sudden police on horseback and in black and whites converged on the street. They had rifles and handguns. Apparently someone was attempting to rob the bank. Normally, I react well in a crisis, but I literally froze. If the robber had come running out, I would have been prime pickings.

    I understood fear at its most basic. I am thankful you are here to share a frightening experience, my friend. Virtual hugs.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Posts in Pre-February Friday Lite ReviewMy Profile

  • Scary thing to see and the thoughts that ran through your head were totally normal and expected. As a writer you are more observant than a non-writer. The commenter that accused you of being “hung up on color” is completely out of line and seems to be just looking for a fight.
    Glad it all came together peacefully.
    Susie Klein recently posted..But Wait-There’s More! Looking For A Way To Banish Bad Days, Permanently?My Profile

  • Anne:

    I know it’s a little freaky to see all the guns out, but the idea is to make the threat of force so overwhelming that the suspect doesn’t even entertain the idea of using a weapon. If it seemed to you that they went overboard, and yet no weapons were discharged, then the officers got it right.

    Mark Keating recently posted..Renewable jobs growth faster than any other energy sectorMy Profile

  • Floyd Benson

    I have been following your blog about about a year. I must say I am disappointed in this post.

    I find it disturbing that you would mention race that many times, or that you even noticed those details in the first place. Now, had there been glaring impropriety which caught your eye, then I might understand. But I think it shows a lack of objectivity to make any inferences whatsoever about what was going on in that confrontation, when you clearly had no facts to go on.

    This is the problem with left-leaning thinkers; they think without using facts, basing conclusions more on emotional/visceral elements. To have that reaction, IMO says you are predisposed to see race as a factor when it may or may not be. But that predisposition is not a healthy outlook. Also, not being trained in law enforcement, I doubt you know the protocol for stolen cars in san diego, and I would venture that those cops were following it to a “T”

    That’s discouraging to me, that people in this country are still hung up on color, still trying to use surface details like this to stir things up. The problem is not that you were wrong in your assumptions about those cops. The problem is that you had those prejudiced knee-jerk reactions to seeing it to begin with. That would never have crossed my mind, to even wonder that. And had it been reversed, black cops, I would not have wondered then either. An objective person would survey the obvious facts, and not make leaping assumptions about the “inner” motivations of some white cops. And I’ll bet that those same cops would have done the same things had the perps been white. I bet.
    (So you think that since they were black males in a stolen car, the cops should have been somewhat “nicer” and less aggressive? Or do you think the cops would have done differently had there been white guys in the car? That is what it seems you are implying here, that the situation was handled differently just due to the race of the target individuals.)

    I am a white male, school teacher, living in the south (no not atlanta) and married to a black woman (very dark skinned). Sometimes as I am disciplining a black student the point will be raised that just because I am white my decisions must be racially motivated. You see, they leap to conclusions about my “inner” motivations based solely on what they see as “surface details”

    I must tell you, when you are on the receiving end of those kinds of allegations, and knowing full well it is completely in someone’s imagination, that is very DISCOURAGING. Maybe depressing is more like it.

    It’s sad to me that our country has lost its objectivity, and that its people are not CLEAR thinkers anymore. God help us all, because I don’t know how we will survive these kinds of divides.

    Shame on you Anne, for even bringing race into that incident you witnessed.

    Floyd Benson
    Albany GA

  • Wow. That’s quite a story, Anne. I agree with Paul about hearing the ‘real’ voice. Things like that have a way of jolting you out of your daily life.

    But you wouldn’t think they’d need 3 officers with guns cocked and ready for a stolen car. I lived in San Diego for a while and I was talking to a coworker about how trigger-happy Denver cops are (I’d lived in Denver before) and she said the SD cops were notorious too. Scary.

  • You just never know what’s going to happen, do you, Anne? I remember being in a hotel in Spain and looking out of the window to see one person chasing another with a gun. I never found out what happened before or after, but I hoped no-one got shot and was grateful I was indoors.

  • Thanks for sharing Anne. Even on a blog such as yours, it is good to hear the voice of a “real” person.

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